Building Insights allowed the company to easily consolidate building data from numerous hardware systems in order to track portfolio-wide energy use, identify sources of energy waste, and share data across its facilities and sustainability teams.
A multinational media company with a large corporate campus is using Building Insights to integrate its building portfolio into one software platform in order to identify energy savings opportunities. Building Insights has allowed them to measure the ROI of energy efficiency projects, making it possible to get budgets approved for retro-commissioning projects. The intuitive Building Insights interface also allows their facilities and sustainability teams to analyze energy information and make data-driven decisions about energy efficiency. After only its first year of using Building Insights, the media company has reduced energy usage by over 27% in three buildings, saving over $90,000.
The media company had three primary pain points that they wanted to fix:
First, they had no data to provide visibility into project performance. The media company had only one utility meter for the entire corporate campus, making it impossible to calculate the ROI of energy efficiency projects. While several projects had been approved based on savings approximations, these projects did not receive a full-circle analysis to measure whether they had achieved expected savings.
Second, submetered energy data could not easily be accessed. The company had existing submetering infrastructure on one-half of the campus for the purpose of billing clients who rented their facilities, but their software tool limited visibility to only one employee with a single login on their computer. Even after the company installed sub-meters on nearly all other campus buildings, the firm that had provided the submetering did not also provide software tools for data access or analysis.
Third, key stakeholders were unable to perform their core functions. Due to the size and age of the campus, much of the energy and HVAC infrastructure was unmapped and undocumented. The company did not have a record of energy metering systems in use, much less the brands or model numbers. A few employees had access to the local utility provider's online billing and usage tool, but users of that system were from financial services rather than from the sustainability and facilities teams.
The media company also encountered difficulties with their hardware. They had purchased a building automation system (BAS) from a large hardware vendor for a couple hundred thousand dollars. However, after installation was complete, the company learned of an additional software fee equaling one-third the installation cost in order to access energy data from the system. The company was stuck with a bad choice: either pay to extract their own data from the new submetering system they had just installed, or get no data from the submeters at all. According to the Sustainability Director, "We had this expensive new system, but we couldn't view the energy data, let alone run reports." Frustrated, the company began looking for other solutions.
About a year and a half later, the company found Building Insights and decided to use Building Insights for managing portfolio-wide energy use. They chose Building Insights for its ease of use, universal integration capabilities, and its price point. "Just getting us all in one system... the efficiency gains here were big enough to justify the cost."
The company found over $90,000 in HVAC cost savings in three buildings using Building Insights
Using Load Profile Analysis and Heat Map Analysis in Building Insights, the facilities team pinpointed three key buildings that consumed a lot of energy and targeted them for their first intervention. The buildings were in special need of attention given that they had unusual occupancy patterns, different from the traditional 9-5pm schedule. The facilities team set the HVAC controls settings to run until late at night in order to maximize occupant comfort in case someone was using the building after hours. Even though people were rarely in the building after-hours, the central controls were set up for those rare use cases, creating a lot of wasted energy.
The team found an inventive solution to the problem, solving both the occupant comfort and energy waste problems. They changed the central building controls to run during regular work hours, but added a temporary control override device on each floor that would allow occupants to temporarily turn on the AC without overriding the central building schedule. That way, the AC could be used on an ad-hoc basis at night, but only when someone is using the space. The team's main worry—that occupant comfort would be disturbed—was solved, and they have received no complaints after installing the temporary overrides on each floor.
A couple of months after the HVAC upgrade, the company went back to analyze the data and found a significant reduction in their heating and cooling energy use. These savings were enough to offset the entire cost of the upgrade, and then some.
Building Insights gave the media company a way to measure the ROI of their energy efficiency projects
The media company wanted to prove the savings accrued from their sustainability projects. Building Insights gave them an easy way to use their energy data and conduct a thorough analysis of the impacts of their efficiency projects.
Before the HVAC intervention, the three buildings were using a total of 5.3 million kWh annually. After the controls were installed, the buildings were using 3.9 million kWh annually, a reduction of 1.4 million kWh, or 27.3%. Most of the savings occurred during the night since that is when the HVAC system had been running uncontrolled.
Total savings during the first 12 months amounted to over $90,000 for the three buildings, with an ROI of only a couple months. Factoring in all project costs, the company still saved over 25% net of the cost of the intervention. Now they are proceeding to implement HVAC improvements in 15 other buildings.
Building Insights makes energy analysis easy and manageable, so the company can spend time executing projects
Getting relevant data out of overly complex software provided by many hardware vendors is harder than it looks. The company's Sustainability Director wanted a solution that would give her only the relevant data for her energy analyses, without the clutter. In her words, "Simplicity is what I want."
The simple user interface in Building Insights gave the media company exactly what they were looking for: easily accessible data that everyone on the facilities and sustainability teams could work with. For example, the Director had a summer intern perform a cost analysis of portfolio-wide energy use for the company's energy management team. He was able to quickly begin using Building Insights and perform the entire analysis in a week. "Our intern needed no training, he knows his way around the software intuitively," she said.
Real-time building data from Building Insights helps the company discover behavioral inefficiencies
High-resolution, real-time data also leads to some surprising discoveries. While checking Building Insights during the day, the company noticed a large spike in HVAC use coming from some of the buildings they had rented out to other companies. They found that some of these companies were leaving doors open and letting conditioned air to escape. "We were effectively cooling the city block outside instead of the company," noted the Sustainability Director.
Armed with this information, the facilities team has begun behavior change programs around energy efficiency to educate employees and building occupants about the impact of their decisions. These policies can also help the company reduce costly peak demand charges during hot summer days.
Building Insights has led to a culture shift in the company's energy management from data-less to data-driven decisions
The media company has noted a few things that have changed since installing Building Insights. They have begun creating a data-driven culture that measures the impact of their initiatives, and they are able to fully articulate value of the energy efficiency projects they undertake. This makes securing budgets much easier, as they have a tool that collects real data instead of needing to rely on estimates.
According to their Sustainability Director, "We are now tying together the utility meters, and the office submeters, and the rental submeters, which are all finally in one place online — something that never existed before. Data for office buildings was never getting collected in such a way that we could look at it together, and the 'broad strokes' analysis we were using was very noisy and didn't give us much insight. Building Insights helped us gain that clarity."
Next steps: the company plans to create a long-term energy plan using Building Insights
Moving forward, the media company will use Building Insights to create a long-term plan for reducing portfolio-wide energy use. Now that they have an established baseline, the facilities and sustainability teams can create a plan based on key metrics they have identified using Building Insights. With this plan in mind, they can anticipate the budget they will need to undertake various energy efficiency projects and give their operations team a full view into their longer-term energy strategy.
The company also plans to use the behavioral efficiency tools inside Building Insights to help manage peak demand. Building Insights can alert building managers when they are about to incur peak demand charges, helping them take corrective action before electric bills spike. Using the software, the company will start investigating where the root of their peak demand charges are, and how to best manage energy use during times of peak use.